Kicking off his interview with Stern, published on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made it clear that, from Hungary’s perspective, Europe is made up of sovereign nations. However, the prime minister continued, certain member states work toward delegating more and more policy areas to Brussels and the European institutional framework.
“This attempt at centralization fills us with fear – all of this fills us with a profound existential fear, based on our historical experience,” PM Orbán said referring to the Ottoman, Habsburg, German and Soviet empires that ruled Hungary as occupiers. “We don’t want to once again surrender the sovereignty and rule of law that we fought for in Central and Eastern Europe 31 years ago,” Prime Minister Orbán added.
Following a short conversation about Brexit, which the PM called “a major error that should have been prevented,” Prime Minister Orbán listed three items Hungary expects from the EU: maintaining the centuries-old European tradition of culturally diverse, sovereign nations; access to state-of-the-art technologies; and geopolitical security.
In response to a question on the rule of law in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that while some of his “Western partners” doubt the government’s stance on rule of law, he always makes sure to remind them that the current Hungarian Government has its origins in the anti-communist rule of law movement. “My dear friends, where did you fight for the rule of law? I fought for it in the streets of Budapest,” the prime minister said, reiterating a typical exchange that we have with our critics.
On the potential mass inflow of Muslim migrants, the prime minister said that while there are Muslims in Hungary, Hungarians “don’t want numbers coming to Hungary that would be large enough to bring cultural change to our lives.” PM Orbán offered up an example to help put the idea in perspective, clarifying that “this doesn’t only apply to Muslims; we have extremely good relations with the Chinese, but we wouldn’t want 5 million Chinese people to arrive here tomorrow.”
“We are fundamentally opposed to illegal immigration. The asylum seekers were accommodated properly; the only problem was that, until decisions were made on their asylum applications, they weren’t able to move freely outside the reception centers,” the prime minister said. He then reiterated Hungary’s long-standing policy of providing help to refugees in their home countries instead of bringing the problems over to Europe.